The Genius Of Narcos: Mexico

Miguel Angel, Rafa, and Kiki

Any viewer of the Netflix original Narcos: Mexico has witnessed perhaps one of the best TV drug series of the decade. Every minute of the show is packed with action, tension, history of the drug war, and great acting. Think of two worlds colliding: the English drama genre and the Spanish novella genre. With season two coming in 2020, now’s the time to talk about Narcos: Mexico and why people must watch the series.

The Real Narrator

The narrator of Narcos: Mexico is not the same narrator in Narcos, although people might mistake him as Boyd Holbrook, playing DEA agent Steve Murphy. Scoot Mcnairy is the narrator and character Walt Breslin, who makes an appearance in the last few minutes of the season one finale. He hands a list of names of Cartel members in Mexico to his men, so he must be an agent.

The Narrator of Narcos: Mexico, 
Walt Breslin.
Netflix, 2018

He is always giving the audience real information about anything narcos related. This includes the history of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, the Plaza System, the DEA — anything the audience needs to know to truly understand how the narcos operate. Here’s a taste of the narrator informing the audience about Rafa’s product:

Life 101. All Plants, including marijuana, exist to make seeds. But sinsemilla flips that on its head. Starts with a female plant that flowers without ever being pollinated. Kind of like the immaculate conception. But instead of baby Jesus, you get bigger buds.

Netflix, 2018

The Cast Of Narcos: Mexico Is Phenomenal

The actors on the show are both American and Latino. The show really tries to capture the interlacing of American and Latino culture. Certain characters only know Spanish, while other characters only know English. Out of the fifty minutes each episode about half is in Spanish so certain viewers might need to activate the subtitles in their settings. This production decision opens the door to not only American viewers but many viewers south of the border.

the main characters of Narcos: Mexico, Miguel Angel, Don Neto, and Officer of the DFS.
Netflix, 2018

The performances of the Spanish actors are just amazing. Don Neto, who is portrayed by Joaquin Cosio, does a great performance. Neto is always doubting Angel’s plan in building a drug empire because he views the game of selling in a traditional manner. Angel is always changing the game, like reuniting the blood-thirsty plazas. Diego Luna’s performance as Miguel Angel is worth noticing as well. Luna contains the best of both worlds, he’s able to perform such an evil narco while being able to hide his evil with his business and family persona.

The Interlacing Of American Drama And Novellas

A lot of plots seen in novellas merge in this American action series. Think of a plot for a novella: it’s driven by passion, there’s usually just one single narrative. We see this with the love between Rafa and Sofia, who’s the daughter of the politician Miguel Felix, and his inability to stay loyal to his wife. The novella drama touches upon misdeeds, such as affairs, abuse, and betraying the family — mostly ignoring action.

Miguel Angel's wife hearing details of the wedding.
Netflix, 2018

These plots enlace with the plots of your usually American action plots, such as the DEAs want to stop the drug cartel from becoming an empire. Speaking of Rafa and Sofia, their love creates layers that merge the recurring themes of novella and action drama. When Sofia is kidnapped by the narcos, her parents are under the impression that she’s in danger. In reality, the kidnapping was staged in order for Rafa and Sofia to be together.

Want A Peak Into Government Corruption?

The more in-depth the viewer goes into this show, the more they’ll see the many problems the DEA had with the Mexican police. Mostly everyone in the Mexican police system, including judges and politicians, were paid by the narcos for assistance. Which is a problem that has always been an issue for the Mexican people. The War On Drugs has made the people in power turn a blind eye to the narcos. It’s a problem that Mexico has dealt with since the beginning of the war and that continues to this day.

DEA discover Planes are bought by Narcos .
Netflix, 2018

Narcos: Mexico goes behind the scenes of the drug world and captures instances where corruption took place. Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo bought the banks once his Cartel took form. The DEA faced pushback from the Mexican state and judicial police in their missions. Politicians favoring the side which made them the most profit. The viewers get to develop an idea of the brutal reality of the drug war.

Adding Layers To The Original Narcos

The viewers get to see some crossing-over with some of the cast members of the original Narcos. In episodes five and six the viewer witness members of the Medellin Cartel and Cali-Cartel. We see that Pablo Escobar and Miguel Rodriguez want the Mexico Cartel to distribute their product, which is a nice touch to the adapted series. The fans surely appreciate seeing their favorite characters mixed into the new show as well.

Pablo Escobar in the original Narcos.
Netflix, 2016

By having this cross-over, the show is fully aware of their past predecessors. Also, with the cross-over, the entire narrative of the orginal Narcos is in the universe of Narcos: Mexico. They’re not two separate realities, they’re interconnected. Also, if audience members are aware of the narrative in the first Narcos, Pablo would not have to explain to Miguel how he’s Pablo Escobar, the King Pin, he can just tell Angel about his hippos and how he could feed him to them.

Could The Subtitles Be Better?

My only concern, being bilingual, is that the subtitles sometimes change the meaning of what is spoken by the Latino actors. For example, in episode two Miguel Angel calls Rafa wanting to know how the process of growing the product is going. In the subtitles, Miguel states:

What’s wrong with the weed?

Narcos, 2018

But the actor said

And the weed cousin? What’s happening?

Narcos, 2018

To an unaware viewer, this might not make such a difference, but both sentences carry different moods. In the subtitles, Miguel Angel is aware that there’s a problem with the process of growing sinsemilla. When the actor spoke, Miguel Angel was not aware of the problem until Rafa tells him that the geographer is an airhead. To be honest, a Spanish/English bilingual viewer will notice many of these errors in the show, which brings the question if this is intentional or not. This is serious, it happens in most of the episodes. If this is not intentional, maybe Netflix should hire some people with real knowledge of Spanish to translate. This effects the catharsis of the show. I notice how the subtitles tend to ignore the titles of family such as uncle or brother, which weaken the theme of family in the show.

Narcos: Mexico Is A Must Watch

This show is full of action, drama, and great scenes that not watching it would be really unfortunate. When you watch the show, pay attention to the narrator, he’s real helpful. The Latino and American actors put on their best performances. Keep in mind how the culture of Mexico is portrayed. Pay attention to the theme of corruption. While this show is great, the production team can certainly change the subtitles to fit the real meaning of the actors. Be sure as well to keep an eye out for some of the original actors. This show will have you impatient for the next episode.

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